Thursday, March 19, 2009

Your move now, Obama

Costa Rica and El Salvador are re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba after breaking them, respectively, in 1961 and 1959.

These moves close a chapter in Cold War history. Costa Rica and El Salvador are the last Latin American countries to resume ties with Cuba after the entire region, with the exception of Mexico, broke them when the socialist government came to power five decades ago.

One might dismiss the resumption of relations by El Salvador’s new FMLN government because it is, well, an FMLN government.

Costa Rica is quite different. President Oscar Arias is famous for his Nobel peace prize, but his advocacy for peace has long been rooted in advocacy for democracy and human rights.

In 2006 Arias compared Fidel Castro to the just-deceased Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet: “Fidel Castro began with the execution wall killing people who opposed him. There is no difference. The ideological age is different but both were savage, brutal, and bloody.”

Cuba’s foreign ministry responded by calling Arias, among many other things, a “vulgar mercenary,” an “egotist,” a “servile parrot of yankee imperialism,” “mediocre,” and someone who “cannot be taken seriously.” (Don’t you wish the State Department could write like that?)

That was 2006. Here are excerpts from President Arias’ statement yesterday on resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba:

“Costa Rican diplomacy cannot be measured by the countries that it excludes, the governments it ignores, or the peoples it ignores. Ours should be a diplomacy capable of opening pathways and building bridges…We wish to be recognized abroad by our friendship, not our animosity, for our disposition to help rather than our intransigence.

“Today the world is diametrically different…we should be capable of adjusting to new realities. Hence I will proceed to sign an executive decree to re-establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba. This is a step that I have considered with deliberation and responsibility. It is a step I take convinced that times change and Costa Rica has to change with them. It is a step that brings coherence to our foreign policy. Above all, it is a step that shows faith in humanity’s future, and confidence that peoples can renew themselves and choose new directions.

“As a democrat of conviction who believes in an American hemisphere of freedom and solidarity, I have not stayed quiet about those things that concern me in the hemisphere. But I also believe in the old adage that ‘only those who are willing to help have the right to criticize.’ I would not want to maintain the official silence that has reigned for decades between Cuba and Costa Rica: that silence will produce no benefits for our peoples. The time has come for a direct and open dialogue, for official and normal relations that allow us to broach our agreements and disagreements face to face and with sincerity.

“If we have been able to turn the page with regimes so deeply divergent from our reality, as occurred in its time with the Soviet Union, or more recently with the People’s Republic of China, how are we not going to do it with a country that is geographically and culturally much closer to Costa Rica?

“For now, as the oldest democracy in Latin America, as the little republic of peace, we extend our hand to the Cuban people, and we send an olive branch across the seas and the breezes, to begin again the good work of building friendship.”

President Obama will meet his counterparts from Latin America and the Caribbean at a summit in Trinidad next month.

In statement after statement from Caricom, the Rio Group, and individual countries; in a string of visits to Havana; in declarations by the President of Brazil; and with these moves by these Central American countries, we have unanimous opinion from this democratic hemisphere. Countries with a full range of views about Cuba’s political system all agree that the way to deal with Cuba is “face to face,” as President Arias says.

President Obama’s message of change, “turning the page,” and listening to allies was heard abroad as well as home. “It’s time for more than tough talk that never yields results,” he has said about Cuba. Cuba will surely not be the central issue in the summit, but it’s hard to see how it will not be an issue, and the potential for news coverage to focus on an all-against-one political dispute is high. The question becomes whether the Administration will fill in the blanks in its Cuba policy before the President gets on the plane for Trinidad.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only way it will be an issue is if the dictatorship makes some dramatic announcement about real reform before the summit. If not (likely), the Obama Administration is under no pressure to make a unilateral gesture to an unreformed dinosaur regime.

Anonymous said...

While I too would love to see reforms in Cuba, it is its own country!

This is big difference between usa and rest of the world, the rest of world views cuba as part of the world system and legitmate, however horrid (just as china, Saudia Arabia, or others).

The usa, well basically Miami, views cuba as illegimate, which for good reason is a non-starter with real cubans.

Anonymous said...

...and the U.S. is its own country too and is under no obligation to have relations with Cuba if it sees no merit in it.

Anonymous said...

yes but the US has no right to try and force other countries to alter their relations with Cuba; re Helms Burton and Toricelli Act
AND, the government has no right to tell the private businesses in the US who they can and can not trade with; that's dictatorial.
but it all comes back to the historical reality of America aggression against Cuban nationalism and its attempts to recolonize the island.

Anonymous said...

No matter how Cuba is, I agree

true dat:
"it all comes back to the historical reality of America aggression against Cuban nationalism and its attempts to recolonize the island."

well put and very true unforunately.

Anonymous said...

The world accepts the Castro dictorship the same way it accepts other dictatorships. But no one questions "Cuba's legitimacy". Rather it is the legitimacy of the dictatorship which oppresses it that is questioned by many, many Cubans both at home and abroad. Who are "real Cubans" anyway? If a Cuban in Cuba tomorrow becomes part of the Miami Cuban community, for example, does that mean he is no longer a "real Cuban". Also, in Latin America and much of the rest of the world, people do not confuse nations, countries or nationalities with the dictatorships, presidents etc which rule them. That is typical of the USA.

Anonymous said...

In addition, I believe the parade of Latin presidents, Lula's call for an understanding between the USA and Havana, Costa Rica's resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba etc. has the discreet blessing of the USA, the State Dpt., the intelligence community etc. The thing is to make it appear as if it is something that is coming from Latin America, while the USA plays "hard to get" etc. That is why Obama is not saying or doing much: It has been Congress, Sen. Lugar, plus many other voices which are creating momentum. That is exactly what will happen. When the time is right, the USA will officially make its move. The USA has decided it is in its best interest to begin a change of policy regarding the Castros. Period. Time will tell, but, unless something extraordinary happens, I see a raprochement between the US. and Cuba. Eso ya está cocido.

Anonymous said...

nothing will happen until the dictatorship does something to justify a re-evaluation of the relationship. It's as simple as that. You can piss and moan all you want about "colonialism" and "yankee imperialism" and all those other historical ghosts, but that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee. If you really want change, pressure the distatorship, not the U.S. -- although I realize the latter is much easier.

Anonymous said...

anony 747

if you want to believe the sky is green in your world, go right ahead. but to deny the historical truth means you have no real understanding of the Cuban-American relationship and what it will take to change things. I'm not pissing and moaning, just stating the truth; you disregard it at your peril, and ignorance. cuban nationalism has been at the root of the island's history since 1868 and before, it is the basis of the revolution and it is the energy that maintains it. Pressure the dictatorship; well duh what the heck do you think the US policies have been doing since 1959, and to what affect?
Your view is typical arrogant American 'we own the world' attitude -- the other side has to jump to our tune before we acknowledge. America deals with far worse regimes than Cuba, but treats them differently. Why? (I'll give you a hint -- US considers Cuba a domestic policy issue.) So keep on yelling that the other side has to conform to our standards, you'll still be doing it when History passes you by.

Anonymous said...

The Cuban community in South Florida has been very instrumental in pushing the Washington legislators to maintain the existent absurd policy with Cuba. Jorge Mas, very wisely, started buying key legislators and playing on their pride and arrogance by suggesting that Goliath (US)cannot afford to be defeated by David (Cuba). The arrogant reaction of the US Government shows when they totally disregard the fact the 186 Nations of the world voted last year in the United Nations against the US embargo that US has manintain on Cuba for 50 years. I hope that the our new President, Mr. Barack Obama, realizes that the key that is shown in the National Emblem of Cuba has to be used to re-open the doors of the Latin American Countries to the US so that they re-gain the faith in the US Government that has been lost and eroded and that this has happened, to a large extent, because of the inhumane emabargo imposed by our Government on the peoples of Cuba

Anonymous said...

hah! the only ones being passed by History are the troglodytes in Havana and their aiders and abetters abroad. Oh, I understand history all right, but I use it to inform the present and not be held hostage to it. I'm stating the reality: for the any change to happen in the U.S.-Cuba relationship the impetus has to come from Havana, not Washington. You all can keep pissing and moaning about it but it ain't gonna change things.

Anonymous said...

washington has its throat against Cuba; not the other way around. the initiative for change has to come from America. America doesn't want change from havana, they want the revolution destroyed so they can return it to its neo-colonial status. that is the strategy of all the Cuban americans in congress, they are scared to death of change in Cuba resulting in normalization of relations; for if that were to happen it would mean they would have no say in post Castro cuba. What they want is change to be forced externally, so they would have influence as powerbrokers. That's the history of yesterday and today. And you aid and abet that.

Anonymous said...

good grief man you are so lost in the past it's frightening. do you really believe anyone in Washington really cares that much that they are going to sit there and plot how to "take over" Cuba "again"? what, do you watch Godfather Part II on a continuous loop?

Anonymous said...

so then why is the embargo, a relic of almost 50 years, still in place? You try and misdirect the real issues which are historical in context and still have an impact in current US-Cuban relations. (I've never seen Godfather Part II.) But if you knew anything about Cuba you'd know there is still a real concern of American intentions Post Castro. Every heard of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba? It is EXACTLY Washington's plan to take over Cuba again, not as overt like they did in 1898, but in the modern sense. Ever heard of Helms Burton or Toricelli. All these are real issues in Cuba. But you'd rather ignore reality and just rant and rave -- it's Cuba that has to change, it's Cuba that has to show the initiative. Who cares if it is a sovereign country that can choose whatever system it wants; if we want it to change it has to change because we say so. How disingenuous, and thank god your voice will have no impact today or tomorrow when the United States finally realizes it is their responsibility to take the initiative in order to normalize relations.
So answer the question -- why does the US embargo continue, along with the policies directed to destroy the regime and nothing else, and the attempts to force other countries not to trade or have relations with Cuba. Because you delusional fool, the US wants to re-impose systems that will serve American interest primacy on the island again, not like it was pre-1959, but in the modern sense.
If you think America doesn't, then why not drop the embargo, lift the travel restrictions, and leave Cuba alone, like it does with dozens of other countries far worse. That my friend is reality, past, present and future.

Anonymous said...

"So answer the question -- why does the US embargo continue, along with the policies directed to destroy the regime and nothing else"

I think the answer to that question lay in the fact that as Cubans, we're a rather nationalistic species. I don't believe Cubans will ever give up on the island - we adore her. Yes, the point of the embargo and other policies is to destroy the regime - absolutely. Did you think there was some other nefarious rationale behind it? The regime needs to be destroyed so that we can forge our OWN destiny, and not that of a bunch of corrupt, morally bankrupt caudillos. Unfortunately, there's plenty of corruption on the U.S. side of things as well and it pisses me off like nothing else.

The embargo needs to be re-worked to reflect modern day realities but I don't believe the Americans should unilaterally lift it. They didn't do it with South Africa before the end of the Apartheid (thank God) and they shouldn't do it with Cuba until the dictatorship is destroyed.

It will happen eventually but we're going to have to wait for it to happen naturally. The reason the revolution has persisted for so long is quite simply because there are so many foreign governments aiding and abetting the dictatorship. If it hadn't been for all of that support, the regime would have fallen long ago.

We, as Cubans, are pawns of U.S. politics and the international community's crime of complicity. It sickens me but, that's the way it is.

Regards,

Gerardo

Anonymous said...

cubans are incredibly nationalistic, that's the whole point. you are pawns of us politics. and you are right, the embargo is designed to destroy the regime. but here's the hard part to accept; those who still support the regime (and all its faults) see those policies to destroy the regime as an effort to destroy cuban nationalism. Because the efforts to destroy come from a foreign entity that once controlled cuba, and in many ways wish to return (in different form) Fidel for all his bad, and good, represented the first true cuban national revolution that succeeded; a revolution won by Cubans, not one snatched away from it by Americans.

Re south africa -- the whole world in the majority supported the embargo; no one supports it against Cuba. It was not a US initiated and maintained embargo; the one against Cuba is just wrong.
You say you want to destroy the regime so you can forge your own destiny in cuba. and that's the problem as well, when those who support the destruction of the regime can not be disconnected from the foreign entity behind the policies, it compromises your position. saying other countries support has maintain the regime also diminishes your position, it's simply not true. if cubans wanted to rid themselves of this regime, like they have done for the past 150 years, they would have.
one last word on the embargo, it is NOT designed to destroy the regime, it is designed to make things so miserable for the Cuban people to force them to destroy it for you. if you really are Cuban you should be ashamed of yourself for supporting such a criminal act. (And if you are cuban, then you live outside the country now and it is more of a shame to want to see your own people suffer while you are shouting from the outside).

Anonymous said...

Do you actually believe we have any power at all to change the government in Cuba? Seriously - that notion is naive at best. The state wields far too much control for that ever to happen - and with the military in control of tourism dollars, as well as receiving plenty of special perks for loyalty, don't count on the military doing the job.

The minute we rise up, Raul will have tanks in the streets, there are plenty of plans for that. The order will be to open fire on any crowds - this has been outlined by several government defectors in the past - most recently by Fidel's bodyguard of 17 years, Lt. Colonoel Reinaldo Sanchez.

Cuba isn't a fairy tale land where we can institute our own change. It is a plantation. We are nothing more than chattel.

We tried in the 60s to overthrow the regime and we failed. Yes, we need to live with that. But shame on those foreign nations who perpetuate this misery. We are in many ways an island of innocent pawns. I do not for one single moment, believe we deserve the fate that has fallen on us.

The fact that you used the same tired argument about "well if your people wanted to change the government, they would have risen up," speaks of your ignorance regarding the island. I do not mean that as a criticism, please don't take it that way - simply point of fact. And that fact is all too common around the world when people speak of Cuba.

Me? I'm a realist - the world has forsaken us. Cuba will continue to slide into the depths of oblivion and we are essentially jodido. What kills me about that fact is the knowledge that as a people, we have SO MUCH potential it makes my head spin.

Patria y Vida!

Regards,

-Gerardo

Anonymous said...

i don't take your comment as criticism; but please don't continue your tired old line that 'there's no hope to rise up'; if a million people in havana, holguin or cienfuegos took to the streets and demanded revolution, it would happen. i do know cuba, very well, and it's cop out to think the fact there is no revolution indicates control; it is far more complex. (Have you ever been to a country that is a real police state?) The patriotic cubans didn't mind the terror and guns and murder of the streets when they revolted against Batista, which had much more control. Batista fired on the people, the current regime never has. And if you refer to Giron then you must know it was the Cuban people who supported the govt response and helped solidify the regime as legitimate, and cuban. Quit blaming other nations who conduct normal relations with Cuba; it is the evilness of the US policies that help perpetuate the regime. I grow weary of those who romantically wish for a reality that is only a historical fiction; if you want to change things quit making excuses and work on the real wrong; us policy. For 50 years these policies have done nothing to foster change in fact they just help the govt in its rigidity.
You are right you, do not have the power to change the government, because you are not part of the solution, only part of the problem. And you only continue to do harm to your fellow Cubans who want improvement, reform and a better life without having the American knife at their throats.

(Funny you never once commented on the embargo only hurting the real Cubans. typical)

Anonymous said...

good grief, it's son-of-leftside...

Anonymous said...

now that's clever. who's leftside? wait, it's the right wingnuts, get them with logic and they try to be funny. jon stewart must be shaking in his boots.
I've never met a right winger that has made me laugh, I mean intentionally. When they talk about Cuba and their lack of a grasp of reality, now that's funny. But I think they think they are serious. Gee, hope not.

Anonymous said...

Have I ever been to a police state?

Are you serious?

I'm Cuban, remember.

As far as the lack of reality on the part of the "right wingers," sure, I've seen it - in many ways their viewpoints are caught in a time warp. That doesn't excuse those of us who are slightly left of center or left wing from doing the same exact thing.

Did you actually say that the regime in Havana has never once fired on innocent people? Are you kidding me? Wow, I'll make sure I tell that to the parents of my dead family members. Will get right on that, thanks for clearing it up for me. I don't need some ignorant bigoted yuma gringo to inform me of the history I myself have lived.

-Gerardo

cabron said...

Gerardo, I think anon meant that the regime never fired on a Cuban citizen that didn't have it coming to him or her. You know, like a Cuban who disagreed with Papa Fidel or tried to leave the prison, er, island, without Papa Fidel's permission.

Anonymous said...

gerardo, who says i'm not cuba. and a history lesson is exactly what you need, gusano. point was BAtista fired on students, labor leaders etc, more than 20,000 opponents died leading up to the revolution. When there was a mass demonstration in havana in the 1990s the govt didn't fire, fidel went in and calmed the situation. The current regime has made lots of mistakes, and many have suffered from it. But you people just don't get it. AFter 50 years just keep on ranting and raving, crying ineffectively from the sidelines. If you wanted change there are ways to do it, what you want is destruction, and that makes you lackies of the US. Keep up the good work though, maybe in another 50 years you'll see some results. patria is alive and well in cuba, not miami. lol

Anonymous said...

wow, so much emotion and anger, after 50 years it seems so incredible.

Here's the situation in my opinion --
There are two sides: one side sees the revolution as authentic and legitimate. The other side does not.

There's a million things Fidel and his system has done wrong. And the opponents spin the continuation of the regime in a thousand different ways. But the way I see it, if the Cuban people want to get rid of the revolution they would have done it, especially when things were so tough during the special period.

After 50 years don't you have to deal with it, accept it, try and change it for the better. But to want to destroy it seems only to increase the resolve of the regime to survive. And now it looks like the US and Cuba will start moving towards normalization. Don't you have to understand and accept that is what is happening?

Those who support do, those who don't never will. But such a waste.

cabron said...

right, and many saw the regime's of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, etc. etc. as "authentic and legitmate."

Anonymous said...

What the hell does the United States have to do with what I am saying? I'm Cuban, not North American.

The reason there still exists support in the outside world for the regime lay in bigotry. To many, we are a simple breed in need of a strong arm dictator to keep us in line. I for one, am sick and tired of it.

And what the hell does Fulgencio Batista have to do with this? Are we comparing dictators now? He was a son of a bitch, anyone with half an education understands that. So we traded him in for another dictator several times worse - wonderful. Right back to square one.

Gerardo

Anonymous said...

enough of your warped sense of reality, both of you. how dare you compare hitler et al with the history of Cuba. you can not be cuban with so much ignorance. you are cuban, so then why do you do dare to try and separate American's part in all this. you can't be that blind.
Fidel worse than Batista. that is the epitome of what's wrong with your kind of extremism. it is an insult not worthy of a gusano. you can't see anything good this regime has done for the people of cuba, not the narrow section that benefited so much from Batista and his American benefactors. your attitude will never allow for any compromise, and that's why you will always be left on the sideline. digusting post trying to compare fidel with hitler, or saying he is worse than batista.
you know who thinks you cubans are 'a simple breed' -- the americans who called cubans ignorant, cowards, incapable, ignoble and unworthy of their own contry;; and that's why the invaded Cuba and took the 1898 revolution from them. then they had a segment of cubans cowtow to their wishes, got rich off it, and sold their souls, desperate for American annexation. you are the descedent of that. jose marti would weep for you.

Anonymous said...

why is leftside posting anonymously now?